Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mom's Amazing Banana Bread

So the name of this recipe is a little misleading because it has nothing whatsoever to do with my mother.  Actually, I don't think my mother has ever made banana bread, but that's beside the point.  And the name is misleading in other ways too, but I will get to that later.  This recipe came from a cookbook that one of my friends gave me as a wedding gift.  And when I saw a recipe for making banana bread in a cast iron skillet I thought it sounded interesting enough to merit a try.  Then when I saw the recipe included, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, and sour cream, I decided that my attempt should be sooner rather than later.  Ever since I tried Granny Foster's Banana-Walnut Bread I have been obsessed with the use of cardamom in banana bread.  And then I made a loaf of Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and realized that sour cream (or creme fraiche) in banana bread is wonderful because it keeps it so moist.  Somehow this recipe combined some of my favorite elements from earlier banana bread experiments, but baked the bread in a cast iron pan instead of a loaf pan, which was totally new to me.

So this banana bread was good (not amazing, but good).  But it just couldn't compete with some of the other banana breads I have made in the past - particularly my Green Curry Coconut Banana Bread.  I really need to stop experimenting and just bake myself another loaf of that banana bread.  I thought that cooking the banana bread in a cast iron pan would contribute to a really nice crusty top/bottom/overall exterior, but it didn't.  Instead there is no crust to speak of and I really love that crust.  I would say that the crumb was very standard - not too moist, not too dense, not too cake-like.  The bread has good flavor, although Alex points out that it is more savory than our last few banana breads.  I'm not sure what to say about the banana bread, except that it is really just a totally standard banana bread.  And if you like that more than some of the crazier concoctions I like to whip up, then this recipe should be perfect for you.  Me?  I'll take crazy any day.

Recipe after the jump!

Mom's Amazing Banana Bread
The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook
By Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 overripe bananas, well-mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
dash ground allspice
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the bananas and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and fold in with a spatula until well-blended.  Gently fold the nuts and sour cream into the batter until just blended, being careful not to overmix.

Lightly butter a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet.  Pour the batter into the skillet; place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-60 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.  To serve, you can either flip the bread out of the pan or serve it in the skillet, sliced into wedges.

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